Meet the Staff: 5 Questions with Press reporter Kenne Medley

Zach Vance • Feb 3, 2019 at 11:07 PM

Readers, meet the Johnson City Press’ newest reporter, Kenne Medley.

A military veteran with a bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University in media and communication, Medley will focus on local entertainment coverage as well as community and veterans’ issues.

Medley was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and moved around quite a bit as a child before finally landing in Lee County, Virginia.

Medley is currently engaged to Kaylani Ngirarois and has three children: Christopher, 3 months old; Liam, 2 years old; and Urijah, 8 years old.

Fast Facts
Dogs or Cats Dogs
Favorite book(s) I love all books. Just the smell of a new book or a really old book is enough.
Favorite food Traditional Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, stuffing, cornbread and all the good stuff on one plate. 
Hobbies Mountain biking and spending time with my children
Pet peeves Improper grammar.

What motivated you to serve in the U.S. military? How long did you serve and where were you stationed?

“I served from 2003 to 2013 in the U.S. Army. I was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division and also in Caserma Ederle, Italy, with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

“I was an airborne infantryman, and I held positions as a team leader, machine gunner, grenadier ... pretty much every job you could have as an infantryman. I did three deployments for a total of 38 months in a combat zone. It was 12 months in Afghanistan, 14 months in Iraq and then back to Afghanistan for 12 months, with corresponding downtime in between.

“I was motivated to join the military because of media influences, and also because my grandfathers, an uncle, a great uncle, and great-grandfathers all served. A member of my family has been in the military during every war America has taken part in, including the Revolutionary War. Our family has been in the country since 1635, approximately.

“It was also a way out of poverty. I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today without the military. I used the military as a stepping stone out of poverty. Neither one of my parents graduated high school, and didn’t really hold down a career. We were homeless at different times in my life. Addiction was a big part of growing up, and I didn’t have money to pay for college. The military provided that.”

What influenced you to then become a journalist?

“We had a photojournalist that was embedded with my unit, and I became his bodyguard, essentially. He was a journalist out of the The Hill Times in Ottawa, Canada, and I had lunch, breakfast and dinner with the guy. Outside the wire, he was pretty much attached to my hip, went everywhere with me, and we talked a lot.

“He got me interested in photojournalism. I started researching it more, and I came across a quote from Eddie Adams, who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His most famous photograph, which he won the Pulitzer for, is of the South Vietnamese general executing a suspected North Vietnamese (prisoner of war) in the streets of Saigon ... During his acceptance speech, (Adams) said, ‘A still photograph is the most powerful weapon in the world.’

“I sat down, did a self-assessment, and said, ‘50,000 or 100,000 rounds down range in Afghanistan and Iraq would change nothing. But if I could take one picture in the right place at the right time, and write a story that accompanied it, I could really change a lot more than the rounds (being fired) down range would.”

As the Johnson City Press' newest reporter, what qualities will you bring to the newsroom and ultimately to our readers?

“I think the biggest quality I’ll bring to the newsroom is a diverse background. I think growing up the way I did, it opened my eyes to many different aspects of American society and culture, and the struggle to climb that socio-economic ladder has made me open to many different views. As a voice of our readers, I think the empathy that I can carry into interviews and ultimately communicate through my stories will be an asset to the audience.”

What can our readers expect to see you reporting on, also known as your 'coverage beat'?

“I will be covering some community events and happenings, and also entertainment. I really love doing entertainment. It’s not as polarizing as some of the other news coverage, like politics, so I like to call it my ‘de-stress stories’ or my ‘feel-good stories.’

“Also, I’ll be covering veteran issues, and I want to cover the big ones: Education, homelessness, mental health and quality of health care from the VA. As a veteran myself, I don’t consider myself a hero or anything like that, but I do think it’s important that we look out for the ones who are. There’s real heroes out there, the veterans who didn’t come home or came home missing pieces.”

Who or what inspires you the most in life and your career?

“I think my biggest inspirations in life come from my father and historical figures that have faced ultimate adversity. People like Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Tubman, Thomas Jefferson, Fredrick Douglas.”

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

“As a journalist, the best advice I’ve ever got (from ETSU Journalism professor Dr. Andrew Dunn) is, ‘If you’re mother ever tells you she loves you, check with your brother and your father.’ ”

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